11 creatively restraining challenges to flex your mixing muscles

Last week I felt as though I was ‘stale-ing out’, that my sets weren’t as fresh as they used to be. I had been incorporating new songs into my sets regularly but I found I was making the same predictable transitions over and over. I wasn’t pushing my boundaries very much. I reached out to Reddit for ideas how to switch it up, below is a summary of the responses.

  1. Make a mini-mix doing only fast transitions with the crossfader (This can double as a marketing down the line)
  2. Transition only using EQ’s
  3. Transition only using FX
  4. Play instrumentals/acapellas over other tracks
  5. Layer drum loops and other samples over mixes
  6. Force yourself to mix between different genres
  7. Transition tracks in alphabetic order
  8. Filter & sort your collection to dig up forgotten gems;
    • Find older tracks – sort by ‘Import Date’
    • Find tracks you haven’t played in a while – sort by ‘Last played’
    • Find tracks you haven’t played much – sort by ‘Play Count’
  9. Mix without headphones
  10. Mix with only headphones
  11. Force yourself to not use the sync button!

Some of these approaches incorporate creative restraint. It takes mental pressure away from trying to come up with something new and relaxes the mind enough to go to work on the cool stuff. Forcing yourself to limit your options leaves you no choice but to get creative. Tackling challenges gives you focus, it pencils in an outline on the blank canvas of your sets. All you then need to do is color it in!

Conversely, having too many options can be overwhelming. In stride, pick just one of the above line items. Start with the easiest. You want to build/continue building the habit of practice. Going through the motions of your new routine is more important than the actual routine itself, at least for the first ~45 days. This about how long it takes for new habits to form.

An easy way of incorporating a habit of practice is by forcing yourself to figure out just one new transition per day. It’s not a crazy committment but will definitely yield some great new mini-sets after a couple weeks sticking to it. As they say in the fitness world, the best routine is the one you’ll stick to. Consistently investing just a little bit every day will  ensure you get better through time. It will be slow, but steady.